Elizabeth Macklin

Sign Language

Where the great hands
spell out the A
to Z and a
scatter clearly
means scatter, a
pinkie held to
the heart then
an eye means
I see, the grammar
of which doesn't
matter: a non-
restrictive
relation's
conveyed by a
gesture; the face
is the only
true place for
expressions of
love, indecision,
rapture; two hands
brushing the
air past the ears
mean "You lost me,"
were over my head,
while love still
appears on the
heart (two crossed hands),
not in the head,
and practice
is one hand a plane
planing the back
of the other—
We do so nearly
believe we'll have
said what we needed
to say, with our
long training.


©2000, from You've Just Been Told.
Reprinted with permission of W. W. Norton & Company.





Master Classes


Written work

Bilbao–New York–Bilbao, by Kirmen Uribe
"A novel for travellers and storytellers and an all too rare insight into the wonders of Basque culture."


You've Just Been Told. (2000)
"I love ... the way [the poems] keep my mind and my heart moving between two places: the quotidian world and the world she makes of this world with her just-off-center imagination and her passionate intelligence."—Thomas Lux.

A Woman Kneeling in the Big City (1992)
"These are poems with ... a dark wit which yokes together diesel exhaust and desperate regret, and downright cityscapes with poignant longing. No dissociation of sensibility here."—Eavan Boland.

"Who Put the Code in the Dagoeneko?"
At first an essay in Barrow Street's Fall 2001 issue, this project quickly became ongoing. Periodically ever so slightly seemingly out of control, and yet it all started with the thought of "pre-translation."

"It's a Woman's Prerogative to Change Her Mind" (2000)
"Perhaps a reader of By Herself will 'swerve' ... from thought to thought pleasurably, as ... Macklin recommends that women poets do, as writers, in [her] opening essay"—Molly McQuade, in her Introduction to By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry.

Selected Works

Translations
A translation from the Basque, published by Seren Books in 2014
A translation from the Basque, published by Graywolf Press in 2007
Poems
"These [are] poems of abrupt perception and rigorous lyricism." —New York Times Book Review.
"[Her] city is surely the world, and the posture of kneeling surely implies reverence.." —Mary Oliver.
Several essays
A wander through Europe's oldest language, via a number of its latest speakers—poets, singers, writers, musicians—and bits of other phenomena.